Frequently Asked Questions
about Family Constellations


1. Where does this approach come from?

Bert Hellinger came up with the approach, as it is practiced now. Born in 1925 in Germany, he studied philosophy, theology and pedagogy. Later, he worked for sixteen years with the Zoulous in South Africa, as a member of a catholic mission, where he taught and ran many school establishments. In the 70's, when he left the holy orders, he became a psychoanalyst and studied transactional analysis, NLP, group dynamics, primal therapy, Gestalt and ericksonian hypnosis. In the 80's he came down with his therapy called "Family Constellations".

2. Why the name "Family Constellations"?

In the same way stars of a constellation cannot simply quit their system because powerful forces maintain them there, in the same way individuals of a family are bound to their clan by precise laws and by the simple fact of belonging to that clan. Here the word "constellation" means a group united by a fidelity to which no one can escape.

3. What can a Family Constellations bring me in my life?

Constellations bring to light, in a non-judgmental way, your family entanglements and dynamics thus helping you to free yourself from the patterns you perpetuate unconsciously and that hinder you from leading your life. It gives you the possibility to unload "luggage" that you have been carrying loyally, with love, for an ancestor, a luggage that blocks you in your intimate or love life, professional or financial life, social life and so on.

4. What is the difference between this approach and other therapies?

The Family Constellation work is mostly practiced in small groups. There, you have the possibility of "seeing" and experimenting "live" what people of your clan feel or have felt, since they are represented by the participants, in order for you to let go of the past and live Your life. The approach does not focus on problems nor on cognitive understandings of the ancestral dramas. There are no diagnosis, assumptions or judgments but only a truth revealed through what is felt by the representatives, then integrated by the client . Because you witness the live experience, your normal mental resistances are reduced. This is a sacred powerful work that gives a concrete impulse to your life.

5. Does the Family Constellation work only on family problems?

No. You can deal with problems concerning couples, intimacy, professional or financial difficulties, conflicts within enterprises, even major health issues.

6. What kind of issue can I work on?

- Taking your place in life or being allowed to; exist or be seen/heard
- Living a successful life within a couple, a family, in intimacy
- Having a successful professional or financial life
- Letting go a tendency towards death
- Having the right to be happy, joyous; stepping out of depression
- Resume talking to a member of your family: parent, child…
- Assert yourself
- Be accepted for who you are
- Communicate
- Living without shame, guilt…
- Become incarnate
- Looking at major or health threatening issues l
- Etc…

7. How must I prepare myself?

First, by having a clear issue. Secondly by searching for important facts/dramas concerning your clan (death of young children, miscarriage, abortion, adoption, illegitimate child, mental illness, suicide, death of parents at a young age, death of a woman while giving birth, immigration, deportation, war hero, incest, great poverty, betrayal…)

8. I know almost nothing of my ancestors, can I still do a Constellation?

Yes. We go with what we have and light is always shed.

9. Must I live the experience as a representative before I do my own Constellation?

Non, ce n'est pas nécessaire. Dès la première fois vous pouvez faire votre Constellation.

10. What is the difference between a representative and the client that does his Constellation?

Le/la Constellant(e) vient travailler quelque chose de personnel. Une fois l'objectif nommé et les faits éclaircis, le/la constellant(e) choisit des participants (substituts) pour représenter un certain nombre de personnes de son clan (tel que suggéré par l'animatrice). Les substituts sont les personnes participantes qui ne travaillent rien de particulier pour elles-mêmes mais qui sont là "au service" des Constellant(e)s…quoiqu'ils en bénéficient grandement.

11. Do I need a particular talent or a Bachelor in theatre to be a representative?

No. Anybody can be a representative.

12. Why do the representatives have to pay?

Even though they do not work on personal issues, the representatives greatly benefit from their participation in the Constellations of clients because what they experience can deeply touch them in their own stories. Since we are all related and that Life is a series of variations on a same theme, participants are not randomly chosen to represent a particular family member, in a story that often touches theirs. All, clients and representatives, enrich their experience of Life.

13. Am I acting out a role when I am a representative?

No. You are not given a script where, for example, you could represent a lucid paternal grand-mother who would have been abandoned by her husband (for a young "chick") with 4 children and who would, since then, be very critical, aggressive and violent towards men. You are chosen and placed in the work space, knowing nothing much of the person you represent. You simply let yourself go to the feelings that emerge, as if you were in his/her boots. It is simple though it seems obscure! And this is the enigma of these marvellous Constellations.

14. How can I, as a representative, feel things concerning a person I know nothing of?

Though not totally explainable up to now, this is what happens. Bert Hellinger talks about the a field, also known as "the knowing field", in which all can feel what comes from the client's family unconscious. Simply by being chosen and placed as a family member, you can experience physical, emotional or mental feelings or sensations of that person. This is not magical nor do you require a particular talent; you must experience it to believe it! In order to find some understanding, references are made to the collective unconscious of Jung and to the morphogenic fields of Rupert Sheldrake.

15. How often can I do a Constellation?

It is recommended to leave 1-2 months between Constellations. The given impulse can act on the client for as long as 2 years.

16. Must I do many Constellations for the approach to be effective?

No. Though one Constellation does not change an entire life, sometimes the given impulse is felt over a long period of time. Every case being different, each client feels when time has come for a new Constellation. Some do only one, some a few.

17. May I come with other members of my family?

Of course. It is very enriching and liberating to live this experience with family members, as long as the client feels at ease in their presence.

18. Can I do a Constellation for a third party?

It all depends. For your child it is possible. For a person who asks for because he/she is unable to come, it is also possible. But to do so without the knowledge of that person, it is not acceptable.

19. At what age can one do a Constellation?

APPROXIMATELY from age 16 and up. For an adolescent it is possible if he/she is conscious, well informed of ancestral facts and is accompanied by a parent (in most cases). It is sometimes also recommended for the parent to do a Constellation instead.

20. How long lasts a Constellation?

In general between 45 minutes and 1h30.

21. I am shy, must I necessarily do a Constellation within a group?

Bien que cette approche ait été conçue pour se vivre en groupe, elle peut être adaptée au travail en individuel d'un bureau privé où sa portée est surprenante; mais l'énergie intense que dégage un groupe permet un travail plus puissant et très rapidement tous oublient les jugements et les critiques en se mettant au service de la constellante.